My lists revealed

Tuesday, April 19th, 2005
Dean Wrote:
You may have done this already, but could you do a post on your GTD system? I’m curious about how you manage your lists, what those lists are, how many items you have on them, etc.
Thanks, Dean.
[I receive this type request from time to time, however, I've delayed a public response until now. I'm collecting these questions to use as topics for more detailed posts, once I launch eProductivity.NET - which I hope, will happen sooner than later.]

Dean, your email reminded me that this draft blog entry has been on my Someday/Maybe list for too long.

Some quick answers to your questions:

"how I manage my lists ..."

I've used many systems * to track my projects and actions, Dean. I keep coming back to my favorite - Lotus Notes. Notes allows me to integrate my action management system seamlessly with the rest of the systems that I use. Over the past 5 years, I've developed a custom template to help me manage my actions. Several of my clients use this eProductivity Template for Lotus Notes to manage their projects and actions as well.

"what those lists are ..."

My lists are rather simple. It was not always this way. Before I met David (when GTD was still known as MAP),  I used an action management system of my own design. Far from simple, it had many categories. Once I adopted GTD as a methodology for getting things done, I adapted my system, but I kept most of the categories.

Over the years, however, I've streamlined my systems and trimmed my lists down to the essentials shown in the screen shot to the right. My system allows me to create subcategories, so each major section can be expanded to reveal my list items by project, by functional area, etc. I review my lists and categories every six months or so. The subcategories change all the time, depending on what I'm doing. The top-level list has been stable for the last few years.

"how many items you have on them, etc. ..."

As of this evening, I have 3729 items on my lists. Yes, 3729. Too many for any sane person, but then ...   Don't worry, many are classified in subcategories under someday/maybe.

There are many other pieces to my "eProductivity system." As far as list management goes, this is a good overview.

It's been fun to reflect on this as I wrote this post tonight.

Thanks for your question, Dean!


PS. I'd like to thank everyone who has sent me emails or posted on this blog. I enjoy hearing from you and I will do my best to respond as time permits.

* I've used a variety of systems for list management, beginning with simple lists created in WordStar and then SuperCalc, both on CP/M. I designed my first action management system in dBase II - which brought sorting to list management. (In the mid-80's Tanny helped me rewrite my dBase app in compiled FoxPro for DOS.) In addition to these self-designed action management systems, I've used a variety of commercial systems - both paper-based and digital - including Time-Design, Goldmine, Palm Desktop, Act!, and Outlook.  As I mentioned earlier, I keep coming back to Notes. My systems continue to evolve and I change systems from time to time in order to evaluate new software. Currently, I'm experimenting with MindManager and ResultsManager. I hope to integrate these visual tools with the power of Notes. Stay tuned.

Discussion/Comments (2):

Eric, thanks for this.

I found it interesting. I did, however, sit in my office and laugh when I read it, for I had just looked at my list and had about 600 tasks on it. I thought "I HAVE to do something with all these things - it's too much!" But now I feel so good about them knowing you have over 3700 items on yours!!

Thanks for taking the time, Dean

Posted at 04/19/2005 13:06:38 by Dean

I keep learning from you and your colleagues.


I keep learning from you and your colleagues. Just when I think I've got this stuff down pretty good, and there's little room for improvement, one of you guys puts me back in my place :).

I have a ton of projects, and never thought to organize my projects by locations, like you have here. I have my next actions done so, but never considered that for projects. Doing so will make my reviews so much easier!

May seem like a little thing, but it's huge for me. Thanks.

Posted at 04/20/2005 7:44:23 by Nikolas Chapapas

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